The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi

The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi

The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi

The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi


Used in China as a book of divination and source of wisdom for more than three thousand years, the I Ching has been taken up by millions of English-language speakers in the nineteenth century. The first translation ever to appear in English that includes one of the major Chinese philosophical commentaries, the Columbia I Ching presents the classic book of changes for the world today.

Richard Lynn's introduction to this new translation explains the organization of The Classic of Changes through the history of its various parts, and describes how the text was and still is used as a manual of divination with both the stalk and coin methods. For the fortune-telling novice, he provides a chart of trigrams and hexagrams; an index of terms, names, and concepts; and a glossary and bibliography.

Lynn presents for the first time in English the fascinating commentary on the I Ching written by Wang Bi (226-249), who was the main interpreter of the work for some seven hundred years. Wang Bi interpreted the I Ching as a book of moral and political wisdom, arguing that the text should not be read literally, but rather as an expression of abstract ideas. Lynn places Wang Bi's commentary in historical context.

For beginners and devotees alike, Columbia's I Ching is the clearest and most authoritative translation of this ancient classic. -- Kidder Smith, Bowdoin College, Philosophy East & West


General Remarks on the
Changes of the Zhou "Zhouyi lueli",
by Wang Bi

Clarifying the Judgments "Ming tuan"

What is a Judgment? It discusses the body or substance of a hexagram as a whole and clarifies what the controlling principle is from which it evolves.

The many cannot govern the many; that which governs the many is the most solitary "the One". Activity cannot govern activity; that which controls all activity that occurs in the world, thanks to constancy, is the One. Therefore for all the many to manage to exist, their controlling principle must reach back to the One, and for all activities to manage to function, their source cannot but be the One.

No thing ever behaves haphazardly but necessarily follows its own principle. To unite things, there is a fundamental regulator; to integrate them, there is a primordial generator. Therefore things are complex but not chaotic, multitudinous but not confused. This is why when the six lines of a hexagram intermingle, one can pick out one of them and use it to clarify what is happening, and as the hard ones and the soft ones supersede one another, one can establish which one is the master and use it to determine how all are ordered. This is why for mixed matters the calculation "zhuan" of the virtues and the determination of the rights and wrongs involved could never be complete without the middle lines. This is why if one examines things from the point of view of totality, even though things are multitudinous, one knows that it is possible to deal with them by holding . . .

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